Wednesday, September 05, 2018

A "Training" update

 More than a year ago, I was dropping a buddy off to catch a train at the Amtrak station in North Charleston.

We both remarked how tired the station looked.

Not a great first image of the Holy City.

But, good news was in the works. Ground had been broken for the long-awaited new station.

 Even better, it was designed to be a multiple transportation hub.

Not only trains but also buses, airport shuttles and - hopefully - quick bus rides to downtown and Summerville.

Most cities have a quick and relatively inexpensive link between downtown and its airport.

Cabs have been the only choice I am aware of right now. Maybe Uber or Lyft too?

The new modern transportation hub should be a welcome change when it opens around the first of the year.

A staffer in the station said rains had slowed progress but they had been told they probably would pack up and move to the new station January or February.

The existing building then would be torn down and be part of a new larger parking lot.

The day I stopped by last month, there was plenty of construction activity.

Drainage ditches were being dug and it looked like interior work on the new building would commence now that the outside was nearing completion.

With staff permission, I walked out on the present loading area to snap some views.

Part of the overhead shelter had been removed and you could see where the new roof would extend in front of the new station.

Scaffolding was still in place as finishing exterior touches were being done.

I liked the flow of the design and included a copy of the printed elevation on display in the existing depot.

One thing I doubt will be seen in the new facility would be the once-familiar telephone booths.

The adjacent waiting room already had two empty spots where the pay phones used to be.

Progress now has most people carrying a phone in their pocket ...along with some quarters that used to feed these Ma Bell devices.

I recall when it was only a nickel! Or maybe I saw nickels being pushed into the coin slot in old movies. and conversations with an operator.
Black and white movies, of course.

Thanks for hitching a ride as I explore the near future of rail service in Charleston.

My Mom grew up in Yemassee and she and her 3 sisters would wander down to the train depot there to watch trains arrive.

Especially when a new batch of young Marine recruits were detraining. and boarding buses to take them to nearby Parris Island.

Oh, Mom!

(Click on the links and photos for more details.)

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Friday, August 31, 2018


So, if large tree limbs fall in my backyard - and they don't damage anything - am I concerned?
No, not really.

It's just another visit to my "forest" to do some trimming of trees getting too close to my house.

A-Z Tree Service has come here twice before over the last 6 years. A lot of familiar faces.

Again he and his great 9-man crew arrived right on time this morning.

Owner Sonny Nguyen,  dispersed them around the house, cutting away tree limbs that have grown too close

With expert select trimming to assure future growth while they used an array of gear to do the job quickly and properly.

LOTS of specialized equipment!

One little "tractor" driver gathered up logs and limbs and hustled them over to the maw of the massive chipper.

He handled the very heavy pieces.

Others dragged leafy limbs to be ground down to sawdust.

Men with chainsaws and pole saws cut off limbs reducing them into manageable sizes.

Meanwhile,  overhead, the "Chief of the Bucket" was in constant motion above all the other activity, carefully dropping thick branches for collection by the ground crew.

Last time they came to trim, the carport was new and the Cherry-Picker was able to deftly maneuver around it.

Same thing this time but a medium-size bush that would have been in the way, I removed the day before.

At the last moment, I explained I had taken it out.
This saved my Oleander that was being discussed for removal. Whew.

In just about 2-hours, they started packing up and moving vehicles.

I noticed this time there was no man actually up in the trees, using ropes to lower large limbs.

Sonny explained that some of the crew was under the weather and, one was the "climber."

All of the others had pitched in to make sure the morning trimming was a success.

I had no complaints as they drove off for another marathon team-session in either Summerville or Mt. Pleasant.

I am sure there will be another happy homeowner there when they finish.

I said "Thanks and be careful!"

Here are a few more shots showing the team at work:

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Friday, August 10, 2018

Picture this....

So, as often happens, it all started with a camera.

First, there was strictly film in the camera - a Kodak Duoflex - when I was in Middle school. Long before digital.

 It used a roll of Kodak film, of course. Probably 12-shots.

These dozen experiments would be unveiled a week or so later when Walgreens returned my black & white prints. 

Oh, the suspense!

Quickly I learned to make sure to carry it with me to record things, events, and people. Mom even tried snapping some family photos...usually with the sun over her right shoulder as we squinted.

To capture a moment that could be shared later... even many years later.

I had discovered Time Travel when in my early teens!

In Bishop England high school, the whole adventure was bumped up to a new level..someone donated a large camera that used a sheet of film sized 4 x 5 inches.

Little did I realize the history that the gift Speed Graphic press camera and I would have together.

After a year of using the large-format camera, I joined the Marines right out of high school.

It was 1957 and the world was at relative peace, breathing a sigh of relief after 3-years of bloody battles in Korea.

My older brother had joined the Air Force and had spent some time there. 

My younger brother was still in high school so not in harm's way.

I joined the Marines on a curious basis - 6 months active duty and then 7.5 years as a member of a local Marine Reserve. 

After boot camp at  Parris Island, I was finishing advanced infantry training up in North Carolina at Camp Lejeune.

The first 6-months were the worst - and the roughest  - time as a Marine and I looked forward to receiving my MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) assignment.

The first 25 fellows who came out were headed to MP (Military Police) School and I knew I would make a terrible MP.

At 6' tall and 129 pounds, I was in great condition but was not a big husky Marine.

During the interview, I brought up my photo training and the Captain said "OK, you'll go to the Base Photo Lab"

(It was a bit more involved than that... with me claiming to have my photos published in LIFE Magazine. Oh, and TIME News magazine. 

(Hey, why the hell not, at that point?)

The Warrant Officer at the Photo Lab had a laugh when I explained what I had done to be assigned there and, once he found I did indeed know how to use a large-format camera, I was accepted.

My six-month active duty was about up, and I was told I could re-enlist for 3 years and not have to attend Reserve meetings. I was in a happy place and gladly signed up and extended my tour of active duty.

Peacetime was a great time to be designated as a Marine Combat Photographer!

Traveling with the Camp Lejeune football team to other bases to compete meant now I was doing Sports Photography. 

While in San Diego to play the MCRD team, I met some friends at the relatively new University of San Diego and was offered a photo scholarship to start a few months later when I finished my enlistment!

I accepted, packed all my darkroom gear and cameras and headed West.

I set up a terrific darkroom in a small room  with a long sink and running water downstairs in the main classroom building 

My first year there in San Diego, we produced a yearbook for the College for Men. 

That may have motivated the College for Women to start thinking about doing one of their own in the 9-year old college. 

When I was a rising Sophomore, I was hired by the daily metro papers to work in the Union-Tribune Photo Lab. 
We tried split days off and working weekends,  but I eventually took a time-out from college.

In six months, I was promoted to Staff Photographer and was out on the street....carrying a 4x5 Speed Graphic camera.

I eventually went back to USD in 1966 and graduated in 1968.

Oh, I was still working at the paper but, by then, the paper had down-sized to the much lighter Mamiya 330, a medium-size format camera of 21/4 x 21/4 images.

Later we started using a complete line of Nikon cameras and lenses. So the long transition was done

My aching back from the heavy and bulky Speed Graphic became a distant memory. 

Until just a few days ago!

First, a buddy had touted me on a Speed Graphic t-shirt he had bought online 

He and I had lugged these cameras all over San Diego a long time ago.

So. I bought the shirt.

A few days ago a fellow photographer who is leaving town was selling off lots of cameras and other gear so I stopped by.

I bought a vintage (non-working but repairable)  Bronica medium-format camera for $20. As we talked, I mused too bad you don't have a Speed Graphic.

"I have two, he responded. One just the camera that I am keeping and the other is the complete 4x5 kit with camera, lens, flash with two heads, a dozen film holders, etc in the original fiber case for $200."

I left with my old friendly workhorse, the heavy "repairable" non-working BRONICA film camera, and a $20 Kodak photographer's vest.

Well, I already had a photo vest that was too small and another that was way too large. His was medium-size. Perfect fit.

Now it is mine.

(Click on the photos and links for more details).

Whenever you go "shopping," it's a good idea to leave credit cards and checkbook at home. 

Otherwise, you've gone "buying."

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Sunday, July 29, 2018

If it ain't broke, don't fix it...

But, of course, if something really IS broken, then do something about it.


I tried to push the protruding piece back into place but it would not cooperate.

I know exactly when the damage happened.

I was coming off a plane in May after my family-visits vacation in California and Missouri.

As usual, my ever-present small Canon P/S camera was in an older pouch on my hip.

I heard the "thud" when it fell to the carpeted floor of the plane. I scooped it up and realized the pouch was really worn out and I planned to replace it.

I continued to use the camera even though the shutter button was tight at first but gradually began to work smoother.

I continued capturing scenes around me in full color - or black & white -  for more than a month.

At the July monthly meeting of my Photo Group, I was showing my clever little $200 pocket-size camera to a member

I was talking about the amazing 25 mm - 500 mm zoom lens and she pointed to a bulge and gap across the top of the camera and suggested I have somebody take a look at fixing it.

Yikes, I had not even noticed.

Of course, I tried to pop it back in place with my hands but quickly saw that was not the answer.

 Then I did the next best thing..I went online and bought a similar-sized Canon SX620HS with a 25 mm - 625 mm zoom lens. Actually I bought a refurbished model for about $180.

Another member of my photo group suggested I call Michael Harler at Focal Point4 Apollo Road in West Ashley.

The specialty there is quality cameras repaired.

I called 571-205-2116 -even though I had only a $200 Point & Shoot pocket-size digital camera.

Nothing fancy at all. and probably too expensive to even have him try.

Mike was gracious in his little shop downstairs at his home.

He usually does not work on digitals at all, he explained, but he said show me what you have and let's see if I can help.

I looked around at a lot of familiar 35mm film cameras and felt right at home.

I mentioned I had carried a hefty 4 x 5 Speed Graphic for 10 years and, not surprisingly, he had one sitting on a shelf.

At home, I had several of the same 35mm Canon film cameras he had hanging by his workbench area.

While I was looking around, Mike was using a small screwdriver to remove a handful of really tiny screws from the camera I had banged up.

He looked up and held the camera out to me. "Oh," I said, "you can't fix it?"

He smiled and said, "It's all done."

He said it was a simple fix so he had finished the repair in about 5 minutes.

Removing a few screws meant he could pop the parted pieces in place, put the screws back in and tighten it all together.

I laughed and said it reminded me of a sign I had seen in the Administrators office in a small Georgia hospital a few years ago that said:

SURGERY $500..

So, my camera was ship-shape again and I had met a technician who really enjoyed his work.

(Thanks for stopping by. Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Sometimes, dropping a camera might not be a total disaster. Thanks, Mike!

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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Now we start the SECOND thousand entries..

 Because we are starting a new series of postings, I decided to "go back" and add some from the past.

Not the actual past in wartime history, just scenes I caught at a Battle Of Charleston re-enactment at Legare Farm a few years ago.

It's an annual event in April and features a whole timeline of wars from Indian and pirates through the Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, etc.

Variety for sure and lent itself to some strange pairings of re-enactors from different eras.

 General Robert E. Lee was in attendance and charmed the ladies.

It was a warm April and some of the outfits had to be a bit uncomfortable.

But, these are people paying attention to details and what's a little sweat way back before air conditioning became the norm.

Surely humidity then was not as fierce as it is now?! (Hmm, global warming?)

This young fellow I spotted in the parking lot but tried to avoid showing him with modern cars around.

I had just arrived myself and had not yet seen how many juxtapositions would play that afternoon.

To me, it became the norm to seek them out.

The organizers have done this for awhile and knew to use the ample space at Legare Farm to separate the eras as much as possible.

The battle scenes were announced in advance so avid photographers could cover mounted charges, and cannons booming.

Include musket fire as well as machine guns and the ever popular Garand M-1

When I was handed an M-1 I realized the last time I held one was in the 1950s!

So "soon" you forget that it weighs nearly 10 pounds. Yikes.

But, of course, I was younger then and the Marines had beat me into a lean, mean, fighting machine at Parris Island.

I buy USMC t-shirts online and one I saw stated: "Not so lean, not so mean, but I'm still a U.S. Marine."

The catalog said they came in XL, 2XL and even 3XL.

For some reason, one of my favorite photos that day involved a lady wearing the fashion of the 1860s, but facing a modern-day dilemma. 

She agreed to pose when I assured her I did NOT want a photo of her actually trying to enter the facility.

Closing on that high note, I realize some time has passed since my last entry and I had many opportunities to post live music shows I've attended and other interesting events and activities.

I will conclude this one and promise to get more written and posted in the future.

Here are some additional shots from that Re-enactment.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

1,000 th Posting!

In honor of reaching this goal of one thousand blog posting, I pondered what I should re-cap or to stress.

For the last several years I have been selected as an Extra or BG (Background actor) in 5 or 6 tv shows filming here in Charleston and three movies down in Savannah.

This scene was from the Adam Sandler Netflix 2017 movie called THE DO-OVER.

We were told to walk straight toward the camera and an injured man stumbled past us. My "wife" was listed in the credits as "Hospital Screamer." I got a pat on the back and a well-done by Adam.

I have talked about growing up on the peninsula in Ansonborough when the area had bottomed out during the 1940-1950s. Few owned and most rented. on Society Street.

Remembering my 4-room schoolhouse on Anson Street at St. Joseph's K-6,  then the walk down to Cathedral Grammar school for 7th & 8th grades before braving the steady - and constant - wind when you turned the corner and started up Calhoun Street to Bishop England high school.

At graduation in 1957, I had no interest in college and no financial means to do so.

The Marines gave me a military education during a rare - and, for me - excellent peacetime with nobody shooting at us.

That was very important to a Combat Still Photographer.

That led to a visit to MCRD San Diego when I traveled with the Camp Lejeune "varsity" football team for a game on the West Coast.

While there I was offered a photo scholarship to the very young University of San Diego when I finished my USMC tour of duty.

This I accepted!

While living in Southern California I met my wife, we had two children and I even photographed Senator John F. Kennedy when he was campaigning for President against Richard Nixon.

I continued posting stories and pictures when I later re-married and had a red-headed daughter who showed up in my blogs too.

Photography has been an important part of my life, as a Staff photographer for the San Diego Union-Tribune newspapers and most recently, founding a local photography group here in my hometown 10 years ago.

Right now we are migrating the members, meetings, photos and all talks from an old site to our newly- named Charleston SC 21st Century Photography Group, on our new Facebook site.

We have several hundred members, ranging from professionals to wannabes and everything in between.

Wander back through my 12 years of posting my thoughts and photos.

I truly can say the beard I grew about 2 years ago has landed me quite a few roles.

My first was the movie LIZZIE about the young lady with an ax who gave her father 40 whacks.

Her trial was set in 1893 Ohio and wardrobe furnished me period-clothing.

I played the assistant prosecutor but had no lines or credit.

It comes out to theaters this year and I hope to see if I had a lot of "face time."

We shot all day at the historic Effingham courthouse in Springfield, near Savannah. Wardrobe would change our ties to show it was the next day of the trial. My last "day" I wore a bow tie.

I seem to play a lot of hospital patients. Especially on Season 1 and 2 of the just-wrapped MR. MERCEDES series, by Stephen King.

First time I was in a hospital gown was in a CBS pilot called "IDENTITY" that was shot at the old Naval Hospital in North Charleston.

 It was not picked up by the network so I never saw myself on screen.

My latest pilot is SALVAGE, a tv show/series that stars Jim Belushi in a small Florida town (filmed here on Sullivan's Island.)

I was put in a choir gown and became a "prop" at the front of the church. We 12 did not sing but avoided being mixed in with 130 other extras who were the congregation.

 Sometimes the director uses you in several different places as they shoot many different angles or an extreme close-up of the star.

Then you are merely one of the blurred, out-of-focus people walking around in the background.

So, this is my posting to mark a special milestone in my blogging.

I am glad I started to blog and I even found a company called Blog2Print which did as expected and produced five (so far) bound hard-cover volumes of my writings and photos. These I will pass along to my children to remember me.

(Click on the photos and links for more information.)

 A "thousand thanks"  for stopping by. Here are some more random shots from my blogs:

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Sunday, June 10, 2018

Hangin' with JT....

Things get a little confusing when you are seated in the FIRST row at the North Charleston Coliseum for a James Taylor concert.

Yep, about 8 seats to the right of center.

The good news is the microphone is not right in front of his face as it is when you're seated in the center, quite a few rows back.

The bad news is Bonnie Raitt had to cancel her appearance with James due to a medical condition.

He announced at the start of the show that her surgery was successful, she's doing fine and will join the tour very shortly.

The confusing part is you are too close to appreciate all the images changing behind James and his band.

Country roads, mountains, forests, etc. move around, drift across the projected sky, and slowly fade from one scene to another.

Even the Jumbotrons are at odd angles so you can't see what the rest of the audience is being shown.

I'm such a complainer! Sheesh.

Had a young excited couple sitting next to me who said it was their first time seeing Taylor in concert.

She too was using her phone cam and I complimented her on her composition.

I added that we had seen him here in 2014 and in Columbia in 2011.

Just as she asked me if he ever gets up off the stool and moves around, he jumped up and did just that!

He was moving toward our side of the stage.

She was laughing and tried to swing her phone camera to keep his image.

Then, he turned and went back to the stool and sat down again.

I said "well, it's a live concert. We just need to enjoy the show." 

She didn't ask me any more questions about what he might do next.

I concentrated on his interaction with band members, most of whom I remembered from when I had seen him previously.

Without Bonnie Raitt to share the stage, I guessed he would do a shorter show.

Well, he actually ran a bit longer than we expected so I'm glad I had not mentioned that to the young couple.

It had been announced there would be a short intermission so it was fun when the crowd started suggesting songs he should play next.

James had a ready answer,

"We are going to take a break pretty soon and I hear you calling out your favorites."

"Here's the list of what we are going to play in the second half."

"Take a look and see if the ones you want are listed. I'm really looking forward to the next half.

"It has a lot of my favorites too and I'm glad we all are going to hear them."

He played one more of his hits and announced the break and said be sure to come back in about 20 minutes.

As the band left the stage, the young couple got up to go check the merchandising table for t-shirts and CDs.

At about the same time, James walked over to our side, sat down in front of me on the front edge of the stage.

He started signing his name to anything presented to him.

I saw tickets to his show being signed and handed back.
Others had come prepared and had copies of vinyl albums to be autographed.

It was a calm but excited crowd that filled the space all around me, holding out items and taking selfies with their cellphones.

He was relaxed and good-natured, keeping track of who presented what and handing it back in their direction.

My plans to slip out for another beer were stymied as the crowd grew, blocking any easy exit.

Well, what the heck.

 I handed my phone cam to somebody and asked them to take a shot of me. And they framed it pretty good.

I have found my arms are too short to do a good selfie so this was fine.

I even fished my ticket from my shirt pocket and he signed it.

I tucked it back in my pocket so I could show the usher I belonged here in the front row when the show resumed and the crowd had dispersed.

Glancing at it, I saw the "James" was readable but the "Taylor" was more of a scrawl.

I knew what it said and when and where it had happened.

In past concerts, I have been handed a guitar pick from Buddy Guy, one from c.d.lang and another from the late B.B. King so I appreciate when performer rapport happened.

Oh, the young couple came back for the second part of the show. They didn't ask so I didn't mention the signings they had missed.

Nor the brief conversation I had had with James Taylor.

I  said, "we enjoyed your show in Columbia with your son Ben." He said thanks and added he was going to play there again later this year.

As you probably know the big hits come toward the end of the show and really flourish during the encore.

The young couple ducked past us before the encore and mumbled something about "beating the crowd."


(Click on the photos and the links for more details.)

Enjoyed the concert but regretted NOT bringing my small camera along.

The phone cam has its place with really nice HDR results but a real zoom lens was sorely missed.

*Uh, this is posting number 999.

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